By Nick Eskey
For the three years that WonderCon has been in the Anaheim convention center, I’ve been very fortunate to attend it. I say fortunate because compared to my local San Diego Comic Con, this one is much more relaxed. Replacing the large media influence and the sardine-cramped spaces, there is ease and Fandom. Easily one of the industry’s conventions that is more beloved by fans.
The convention itself is very well run, usually smooth-as-silk. A few hiccups that occurred this year were the downed elevators used for celebrity talent (which was of course not the fault of WonderCon) and the last minute change of entrances for badge pickup (my press email said Hall H, only to find out I had to go all the way back to A). I did like the addition of the turn-styles at the entrance of the fountain. This did add a redundancy in checking badges, but it kept the people who were passing out advertisements and postcards away from the main doors.
I can’t really say how long I walked the convention sales floor, I just know my feet got a workout. Artists, independent publishers, and exhibitors inhabit much of the booth spaces.
Though the right side is designated as Artist’s Alley, the far left also seemed like a secondary one, with people showing off their original comics or sketches for sale. Quite a few booths were also selling handmade “geekery” like cartoon-inspired dolls, 3D printed figures, and even tentacle kitty plushies. I spent most of my allotted money on art prints (and said tentacle kitty plush).
I really do wish there was more in the way of panels this year. Last year there were a few big movie announcements shown in the Arena area, but for this one it was all smaller panels on the 2nd and 3rd floors. This is where I think SDCC is far superior. It always has the big talent and over the top showings. It is still nice to have the “how to get into the industry” or documentary panels, but a dash of excitement here and there definitely would add considerably to the lineup.
The big announcement was of course that WonderCon would not be in Anaheim next year, but in LA. From what was told at the talkback panel on the last day of the convention, lack of availability surrounding that time period forced the hard decision on the board. As luck would have it, LA’s convention center had a cancellation, and welcomed WonderCon to fill the spot. We all might be a little spoiled in how the Anaheim convention center sits in between two large hotels, as well as being in walking distance to and from Disneyland Park, but isn’t that part of the fun?
LA does boast a collection of hotels and other attractions, but come on; Disneyland. DISNEYLAND!
I’ll still be heading to WonderCon 2016, believe you me. The convention survived it’s San Francisco birth, and flourished in its Anaheim move. Because of this, I am optimistic that it will become even better in this next move. After the explosion of SDCC, CCI has learned that they need to build on WonderCon piecemeal.
Who knows, 2017 might have the convention back in Anaheim. As of now, nothing is set in stone for the far future.